Let the Light In (New Post from “Becca’s Search”)

One Jewish Asheville welcomes our newest voice, Becca Holohan. Becca moved from Boston to Atlanta and Atlanta to Asheville in her search to find greater meaning in her life. We invite you to follow her journey in her blog, Becca’s Search, which will be a regular feature on this website.

Are you interested in adding your voice? We are always looking for contributors – bloggers, photographers, artists – to add their unique perspective on what it means to be Jewish in Asheville. For more information, send an email to info@onejewishasheville.org.


 Let the Light In

December 9, 2014

 

hanukkah-candlesThe days are short, the cold has set in, and the mountains have turned deep shades of blue. We are in the darkest days of the year, the heart of winter, approaching the winter solstice on December 21st.

Winter is a time for contemplation and stillness and for the gestation of new ideas and projects that will come to life in the spring.  Yet this time of year can often feel rushed and stressful.

How do we create light during the darkest part of the year? This first Hannukah in Asheville, I’ll be celebrating at the JCC’s LGBTQ Latke Potluck next Wednesday and YAJA’s Hannukah Shabbat potluck next Friday.

In the spirit of creating a meaningful Hannukah, here are 8 ways to be a light in the world during this holiday season:

  • Spread the Light: Volunteer with an organization that needs support, or share your gifts with a community that doesn’t usually have access to them. At the Asheville School of Massage and Yoga, we’re going to the Women’s Recovery Center in downtown Asheville to provide chair massages several days this month.
  • Give Experiences: Instead of items, give gifts of quality time with those you love—a trip somewhere fun, a cooking project, a hike.
  • Give Thanks: When you light the menorah, have each person share something they’re grateful for.
  • Create DIY Blessings— What hopes do you have for the world and your own life? Incorporate your dreams–both big picture and small scale–into your prayers as you light the candles.
  • Get Hands On—involve children in your family or community in holiday preparations, whether it’s grating potatoes for latkes, decorating the party table, or rolling beeswax candles, give them sense memories that last.
  • Pay It Forward—Commit 8 secret acts of lovingkindness throughout Hannukah. Put money in someone’s parking meter, make cookies for someone at work, find eight small ways to brighten the day of those you encounter.
  • Honor Your Roots–The story of Hannukah, like other Jewish stories, helps Jewish people know where we come from and what values are important to us. Explore the important stories in your family and community. Share your stories and listen to the stories of others.
  • Look for Miracles— Miracles aren’t just about everlasting drops of oil. They’re about the beauty we notice when we are truly present in our lives. The transformations that occur in our relationships as we grow as people. Resources that show up when we least expect it. Slow down and take time to notice the small (and large!) wonders in your life.

Welcome to our Newest Contributor

One Jewish Asheville welcomes our newest voice, Becca Holohan. Becca moved from Boston to Atlanta and Atlanta to Asheville in her search to find greater meaning in her life. We invite you to follow her journey in her blog, Becca’s Search, which will be a regular feature on this website.

Are you interested in adding your voice? We are always looking for contributors – bloggers, photographers, artists – to add their unique perspective on what it means to be Jewish in Asheville. For more information, send an email to info@onejewishasheville.org.


My First Rosh Hashanah in the Mountains

October 2, 2014

In the last five years, I have had several experiences I would call “Rabbi Zusya moments.” The story goes that before he died, Rabbi Zusya said: “In the world to come they will not ask me, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ “They will ask me, ‘Why were you not Zusya?'” This story reminds us that our ultimate task is to be ourselves—to learn who we are and be true to our hearts. A “Rabbi Zusya moment” is one in which we are faced with two paths and must choose the one that is authentic to us, even at great cost.

Some of these Zusya moments have been large and momentous—coming out to my parents, moving to Atlanta to be with my first girlfriend—and others have been smaller: the myriad of daily choices that determine who we are and what kind of life we build. The latest one came at this time last fall, when I deciding to leave my job and life in Atlanta for massage therapy school in Asheville. Then came a year of planning and slowly transitioning out of one life and into another.

Landing in Asheville has been joyous. Each day I feel a sense of rightness and the excitement and challenges of living a heart-centered life, of trusting the path as it enfolds. The Jewish community of Asheville, particularly the YAJA and GLOW initiatives, have been inspiring and wonderful spaces to connect. I love the warmth and energy of the young Jewish community here.

This Rosh Hashanah I reveled in the richness of the life I am starting here and reflected on the rocky and adventurous path to this moment.  I now understand the sacred as a thread woven into our bodies, our loves, our dreams, our work in the world. Following the thread as it both winds and unwinds has led me on a journey I never could have expected or would have even wanted. As we answer the call, so we are answered.

The kind of strength and courage required to grow up and be who we actually are, to listen to and be guided by our hearts–this kind of courage is so large that I imagine it can only come from a divine source.

My prayer for us all this Rosh Hashanah is that we understand the work of teshuvah as a return to our truest selves, to our hearts, to the paths we are called to take. May we be graced with courage and patience when this return to our true selves surprises us or challenges us to live differently. May we allow ourselves to be instruments of this sacred love so we can bring the highest and truest of ourselves to the world.

L’Shana Tovah